November 9, 2013

We’re Number One! In Rent!

Take that, NYC.  San Francisco rents are even higher than yours.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for passing this awesome news along.

San Francisco Rents Skyrocket, Up 10.1% From Last Year

Forbes, LIFESTYLE | 11/05/2013 @ 12:59PM | 2,823 views

131108-rents-listTrulia TRLA +3.3% Chief Economist Jed Kolko dives into the latest findings from the Trulia Rent Monitor, the earliest leading indicator of how rents are trending nationally and locally. It adjust for the changing mix of listed homes and therefore show what’s really happening to rents.

Among the 25 largest rental markets, rents are rising fastest in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, while they’re falling slightly in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. San Francisco has not only the steepest year-over-year rent increase, but also has the highest median rent ($3250/month) for 2-bedroom units in the country, edging out the New York metro ($3150). No other market comes close to San Francisco and New York: Boston, the third-most expensive, comes in at $2300. At the other extreme, median rent for a 2-bedroom unit is less than $1000 in Phoenix, St. Louis, and Las Vegas.

Can you imagine how much higher SF rent would be if they threw in Santa Clara County? And there is a bit of a cheat in here, buried deep in the FAQ we discover this nugget:

Some MSA’s [Metropolitan Statistical Areas] are split into Metropolitan Divisions, which we use instead of MSA’s where available. For example, we report the “San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City” and “Oakland – Fremont – Hayward” metropolitan divisions separately, rather than the “San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont” MSA.  [explanation added –ed.]

Ho, ho, ho! So that’s how we did it, by throwing away away Oakland, Richmond, and Hayward, City of Diversity!  Meanwhile the New York City subcategory, according to this thrilling OMB document on Metropolitan Statistical Areas, is still saddled with all the working-class outer boroughs as well as the pricier suburbs.  At least we now know which government agency is responsible for splitting SF and SJ into two separate metro areas.

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:07 am






September 15, 2013

Hacker House dies from excessive self-image, brand overexposure

Almost exactly a year ago, we took a look at group housing as not just a way to save on rent, but as launching pad to future success.  Some of these homes were in San Francisco, some were in Silicon Valley.  The most well-known one in the Valley might have been the Rainbow Mansion.  Of course, it has a website.

Now Buzzfeed has a fairly longish piece on the implosion of a shared SF house that saw itself as more than just a bunch of geeks splitting the rent.  Or an “intentional community.” Burbed readers, meet the Rise mansion, formerly known as TheGlint. Right, no space. Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for alerting us to this story.

The Rise And Fall Of A Startup Mansion

130914-rise-viewStartups, pizza, ego, beer, filth. The collapse of a hacker house and the battle for Silicon Valley’s soul.

Justine Shamrocks, BuzzFeed Staff, posted on August 26, 2013 at 2:20pm EDT

When William Hsu first moved to San Francisco to work in startups, he got a one-bedroom apartment. “I thought that was the adult thing to do, the thing I was supposed to do,” Hsu says. “But it kind of sucked actually to go home and no one was there. It was kind of depressing.” He missed college. Like many other young techies, his career development was outpacing his social development.

Instead of just getting roommates, he applied to live with 15 other guys at a San Francisco “startup mansion,” which he later went on to run. As more and more young techies like Hsu move into the notoriously expensive city, these “hacker houses” are becoming a rising trend. Varying in size from about 5 to 20 people, they are sort of commune-meets-incubator-meets-dorm. Each has its own vibe, reflecting the different sub-scenes of the of the tech world from visionaries to brogrammers, grad students to hackers, as well as people working at big companies. Some houses are more established and formal; others, chiefly casual.

I first heard about Hsu’s house when I saw the Craigslist ad for the “Live/Work Startup Mansion with sweeping views of San Francisco!” looking to add “cool new people.”

“Come check it out, seriously,” the ad said.

130914-rise-craigslistThe Craigslist ad pointed to this Business Insider writeup, which was essentially a photo diary about where several of Peter Thiel’s Fellows ended up.

Shared housing in a place of high rental costs is nothing new. What is different was when a group of people sharing a bigger than normal house begin to have bigger than normal ideas about what they’re actually doing.

Much bigger than normal:

"The truth is that The Glint is a live-work community that accelerates the creation and creators of value through design, philosophy, the arts & sciences, technology and entrepreneurship. It aspires to shift the conception of heroism from historical warrior ideals to a new paradigm of creativity, collaboration and innovation"

And if you think that’s bad, their two-word tagline for the group home was “Heroism Accelerator.”

That’s going to need the “ginormous” tag all by itself.  Which it isn’t going to earn according to Redfin.

130914-rise-streetview170 Saint Germain Ave
San Francisco, CA 94114
Sold for $1,400,000

4 Beds
3 Baths
4,300 Sq. Ft.
$326 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1938
Lot Size: 4,996 Sq. Ft.
Sold On: Jun 5, 2003
Status: Sold Source: Public Records

And yes, we realize this doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance to the photos in the article, which is why we double-checked a bit. And this Bing bird’s eye image (right) looks more like the one in the story (left).

130914-rise-bf-craigslist130914-rise-birdseye“One of my jokes for a while was that the whole point of TheGlint was to save the planet, at least according to them. But they couldn’t even save the house,” Gooen says. “Imagine taking the most successful CEOs and putting them in a house together in a reality TV show to organize the dishes and house maintenance. That was almost what it was like. Although they were not as successful. They just thought they were.”

130914-rise-getshitdoneHah.  This is still before TheGlint was shut down and two renters took over the lease and rebranded the house as Rise. Now instead of “changing the planet,” they just wanted to network the heck out of each other.

Hilarity ensues.

This is also your Weekend Open Thread. Ever live in a group house?  Did you ever actually “Get Sh*t Done”?

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:07 am

September 3, 2013

Renters Ruin it for Rest of Real Realty Realm

Stay up late driving back and forth across the new Bay Bridge? Let’s ease you back into your workweek with some good old-fashioned rentard reaming and homedebtor hating.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for ensuring we didn’t miss this.

As Renters Move In, Some Homeowners Fret

130902-renters-2homesBy SHAILA DEWAN. The New York Times
Published: August 28, 2013

MEMPHIS — Beneath the spreading shade tree in Laura Holcomb’s front yard, there are some 70 varieties of hosta, stands of elephant ear and a Japanese maple. For the 17 years she has owned the brick house on Rose Trail Drive in the Hillshire subdivision, Ms. Holcomb has devoted herself to her home and garden.

Across the street, Carl Osborne and his family have been tenants for two years, moving in after the previous owner lost the house in a foreclosure. They are happy to have a decent place to call home but, like many renters, they have not done much to improve the appearance or join the community.

They are not alone: the family behind Ms. Holcomb, the one two doors down, and several in the cul-de-sac across the way are among the renters who have been supplanting homeowners in this blue-collar, suburban neighborhood as investors buy single-family homes and convert them to rentals.

“Used to, we knew our neighbors,” Ms. Holcomb said. Then she gestured toward the few remaining owner-occupied houses nearby. “Except for the two that have been here, I don’t know any of my neighbors.”

Yeah, because who wants to bother getting to know a bunch of renters? They dress different, they talk different, and they certainly do not devote themselves to their home and garden. Check out the photo above, proof that rentards leave boats on the lawn. With tarps. OLD tarps. Next thing you know they’re letting the grass die.

130902-renters-chartIf you live in an apartment complex, then everyone’s in the same boat on the front lawn… renting.  If you live in a condo or townhouse complex, you might have a mix with some units rented out and some filled with proud homeloaners.  And some single-family home neighborhoods are more renter-ful than others.  California always had more renters than most other states, mostly because our property is so expensive more people have to rent who would otherwise want to buy. It’s much more difficult to rent a single family home in other states. That is, it was more difficult until investors snapped up all the foreclosures.

130902-renters-lowlifesWhat kind of hood do you live in, and are you the typical resident or the oddball? That is, are you the lone renter in a block of SFHs, or the owner of the apartment building that you actually live in (along with those rentard lowlifes who are always late with the monthly nut)?

We’ll leave you with this thought from the piece:

Even conscientious landlords and tenants invest less in their property than owner-occupants, he said. “Who’s going to paint the outside of a rental house? You’d almost have to be crazy.”

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:04 am

September 2, 2013

San Francisco Microapartments: Hipster Stacks

File this one under the “Serious, we had absolutely no flipping idea about this” file.

According to The Epoch Times, a San Francisco apartment building recently featured on Burbed is not quite what it seems.  We thought it was just a series of very, very tiny places to live, allowing somebody to be a micro-slumlord over this warren of micro-rentals. But, whoa! Look what this place really is!  (Warnng: links to site are PDFs)

130901-harriet-frontageModular Building Creating Affordability in San Francisco

BY CATHERINE YANG, EPOCH TIMES STAFF

For developers in San Francisco, “it’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times,” says Panoramic Interests CEO Patrick Kennedy.
130901-harriet-pod

If you’ve just put a building on the currently under-supplied market, it’s a really good time. But if you’re in the earlier stages of a project, everything is getting expensive.

“Land’s expensive, the construction trade’s expensive, the entitlement process is expensive,” Kennedy said. Of course, the cost is passed on to renters and buyers.

“If you want to bring down the cost of housing, you have to be more dense—simple matter,” Kennedy said. “Land is expensive in San Francisco, and to the extent that you can provide more units on any given piece of land, you can lower the cost of the housing.”

38 Harriet is nothing but a bloody trailer park stacked up and stuccoed over.

Ernest Cline’s SF/teen/gamer novel Ready Player One proposed this concept in post-apocalyptic living two years ago: trailer homes stacked 20 pods high.  And this building, as you can see from these this article and another linked below, is the exact same thing.  Then again, the stacked units in the novel were considered low-income misery living outside Oklahoma City rather than SF hipster destination paradise.

Here’s a related article on the next page, which sings the praises of “offsite modular construction.”  Don’t let the terminology fool you. These pictures confirms that this apartment building is a high-end trailer park Habitrail.

130901-harriet-building

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:02 am

August 31, 2013

I don’t want a roommate, but an Arch-Nemesis

Why oh why can’t roommate ads in Silicon Valley be like this?  Here’s an ad that caught Burbed reader NYC Exile’s attention. Why NYCE was reading NYC Craigslist is a mystery for another day.

And we’re reprinting the whole thing because Craigslist ads are about as temporary as 2.8% mortgage rates.

$1 Seeking an Arch-Nemesis Roommate (Williamsburg)

130827-arch-vennI’m looking to fill the vacant room in my small, two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with a roommate who is respectful and financially sound, and can double as my arch-nemesis.

If you haven’t closed this page yet — which if you did, even though you wouldn’t be reading this, would be very arch-nemesis of you — allow me to elaborate.

My arch-nemesis roommate will provide constant combat in the apartment. After living with far too many passive folk, I can say with certainty that I AM READY for this. I’m not looking for a bad roommate, per se (i.e. someone that doesn’t clean their dishes or someone that sleeps in my bed when I’m gone), but I am looking for a roommate who is willing to regularly kick my ass, or at least attempt to, so we can create an authentic hero (me) vs. arch-nemesis (you) living arrangement.

Here are my arch-nemesis roommate requirements:

1. You keep our feud inside the apartment. I don’t want to fight you outside of the apartment, even if we leave to get groceries or cleaning supplies. Also, I’m not looking for someone that’s planning some sort of world domination. Let’s keep this between us.

130827-arch-ad2. You adhere to a standard of cleanliness. This is a big one for me. "Neat Freak" is NOT my hero name, but I am seriously a neat freak. The only time you can choose to not be neat is if it’s an initiation for battle, like you filling my room with fertilizer, in which case, get dirty. It’ll pay off.

3. You have a normal work schedule. I don’t want any freelancers or work-from-homers. I’d like you to have a standard nine-to-five. When I’m at work, you’re at work. When I’m home, you’re home. Most importantly, when I’m ready for battle, so are you.

4. You don’t bring the party home. The only time "bringing the party home" is appropriate is if it’s a party with a staged hostage situation. I will try to free the hostage; You will try to stop me. Alternatively, you could just throw a really good party and not invite me.

5. You put your arch-nemesis weaponry away when it’s not in use. This is a SMALL apartment with even smaller rooms and even smaller closets. Any weapons, tools, and/or metal suits should be kept to a minimum, and at the very least, should fit comfortably under your bed.

130827-arch-venn36. Your powers must match or exceed mine. My "powers" are never forgetting to set my alarm clock, playing a few chords on the guitar, and making a decent omelet. In addition to being able to kick my ass, you should be able to sneak into my room to turn off my alarm clock, play the major and minor guitar chords, and make eggs in other variations besides the omelet.

7. You are truly my arch-nemesis. You HAVE to be my arch-nemesis and not just a "villain." There’s a big difference. My arch-nemesis is the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker, the salt to my slug, the orange juice to my toothpaste. We are the same person, but at the very same time, we’re complete opposites.
8. You pay rent on time. Speaks for itself!

DISCRIMINATION WARNING: I’m NOT looking for anyone that actually thinks they are superhuman. If you think you can fly, or are just good at climbing buildings, then good for you. If you can’t do these things, you should still feel free to apply. Also, I’m totally okay with a female arch-nemesis. I’m not one of those guys who thinks females weren’t "built" to be arch-nemeses. That’s silly.

130827-arch-tshirtIf you think you are truly my arch-nemesis and meet the roommate requirements outlined above, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more about the apartment. Or, maybe I won’t and that’s where things will truly begin.

  • Location: Williamsburg
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Posting ID: 4029623636
Posted: 2013-08-27, 4:14PM EDT
email to a friend

NYC is one of our many arch-nemesis metros (because Silicon Valley is so awesome we have to have several), so we need some better ads than this to defeat them. Please share if you can find any, and if you can’t, then write something better for a rented closet in a Campbell Crapbox.

Update: Heard back from NYC Exile, who says this ad was written by comedian Alex J. Mann.  (We’ll have you know we found the matching pictures ourselves.) That’s kind of a shame that this is professional work product. Could you imagine the roommate wars from a software engineer who needs an arch nemesis just to chill out?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am

August 18, 2013

Around the Web: Useless Realty-Related Infographics

Maybe by 2014 everyone will be sick of these ubiquitous infographics, but for now they’re everywhere.  And not everyone is improved by the addition of spurious graphics. Realtards aren’t the only ones out there giving out self-serving information while suggesting they’re helping you.  Homebuilders also play many of the same games we know and love.  Here’s a fun infographic, if by “fun” we really mean “see how much fun you can have spotting all the misleading information in one image.”

Not only is “Myth One” a real hoot in the Bay Area (let alone the Real Bay Area), it isn’t even true without all the special pleading for tax exemptions and future streams of payments and other sneaky accounting tricks.  Remember, Richard Florida pointed out that in Opposite of the Real Bay Area, it’s actually cheaper to buy than rent, as in monthly payments there are lower than monthly rents.  Why?  Because everyone who wants a house has bought one, so there are few potential customers.  In the RBA, lots of people want to buy but can’t afford to, so prices stay high as they save up until they can.

We don’t even want to mention that unlike the Bay Area, there are many places in the US where it’s very difficult to rent a typical single family house, so comparative rent vs buy is almost impossible. Perhaps more people would rent if they could get a house instead of an apartment.

What’s your situation? Do you live in a SFH, a townhouse, or an apartment? Do you own or rent? What do you think if this silly poster?

Oh yes, NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY! NOW! NOW! NOW!

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:04 am

August 17, 2013

Palo Alto still clinging to its one and only trailer park

The owner of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park wants out of the business, the units are vintage architectural treasures, and the residents love the value they get in the high-priced city. In this installment of As The Park Blights, the City hits the property owner with yet another stalling tactic. 

Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for sending this important update to our attention.

Application to close Palo Alto mobile home park deemed incomplete — again

By Jason Green, Daily News Staff Writer
POSTED:   08/10/2013 01:52:55 PM PDT | UPDATED:   7 DAYS AGO

PALO ALTO — For a second time, an application to close the city’s sole mobile home park was rejected as incomplete this week.

Toufic Jisser, the owner of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, is required by Palo Alto’s municipal code to follow a specific process to shutter the decades-old facility. It includes completing a "resident impact report" that spells out how displaced residents would be compensated.

That report is still missing critical information, according to a letter Grant Kolling, senior assistant city attorney, sent to Jisser’s attorney, Margaret Nanda, on Thursday. Nanda, for her part, has said the report meets all legal and technical requirements, as well as the spirit of the municipal code.

While the owner jumps through more hoops to get the park ready for the bulldozers, you’re probably out touring as many Open Houses as you can. Let us know if you find anything affordable this weekend, especially if it’s in a community like this one. 

This is your weekend Open Thread!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:11 am

June 23, 2013

Landlords from Hell settle for jail instead

Here’s a cheery story for you if you don’t like your landlord, as it will set things into a much better perspective.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for alerting us to this development.

‘Landlords from hell’ accept prison terms for terrorizing tenants

130619-macys-mugshotsBy Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2013, 2:45 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — A software engineer and his real estate agent wife who terrorized their tenants in a twisted attempt to force them to move are back after fleeing to Italy, and each has accepted a four-year prison sentence and two strikes rather than face trial, Dist. Atty. George Gascon announced Wednesday.

Nicknamed the "landlords from hell," Kip and Nicole Macy employed tactics "so outlandish and brazen" in attempting to clear their building of renters that "it sounds like the plot of a horror movie," Gascon said.

They each pleaded guilty to two felony counts of residential burglary, one felony count of stalking and one felony count of attempted grand theft. In custody on $2-million bail apiece, they are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22.

Kip Macy’s attorney, Lisa DewBerry, said the couple could have faced a maximum of 16 years in prison if tried on all charges.

130619-macys-sawBe sure to read the whole article, cataloging not only what the Macys were accused of doing to their tenants and their apartments, but also the part where they paid bail and fled the country for Milan and spent a year fighting extradition.

Don’t forget the power saw that popped up into one of the tenant’s floor without warning (the photo at left shows what happened when he whacked the blade with a nearby hammer).  There’s even accusations of email spoofing.  And here’s an older piece from Palo Alto Online when they were first hit with the charges; what’s interesting are the comments defending the Macys from the evil San Francisco tenants. Why, some of them read as if they were written from the perps themselves!  Why Palo Alto Online for a San Francisco story?  This caring couple lived in Palo Alto when they were accused of all these shenanigans. Kip was a software engineer and Nicole was… a realtard.

130619-macys-clementinaHere’s the building where all the fun took place. Don’t you want to go out and buy an apartment building in SF right now?

This is also your weekend open thread! How’s the renter life treating you? Is it awful enough to make you want to look at a bunch of Open Houses and overbid up the wazoo?  How about chatting up the other people at the Open House so you can spoof email saying they don’t want the property you’re trying to score? Hey, in a competitive market Insane Real Estate Bubble, the only way to win is to prevent everyone else from playing.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

April 19, 2013

UPDATED: Quimby: A street? A neighborhood? So many Questions

BlogAtoZ-QWelcome to one of the Scrabble “bunus” rounds of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Yes, some of the letters are worth more points, because they’re Quite harder to play. And there aren’t any cities in the entire Bay Area that start with the letter Q, so we’re going to have to come up with another Quality. And we’ll have the same Quixotic Quest again when we deal with X and Z!

So, are there any other place names we can use? Neighborhoods, local landmarks, that sort of thing?  San Francisco has 118 distinct neighborhoods, and not 130418-norbert-qone starts with the “Scrabble Challenge Trio.”  Ditto for the 33 hoods in San Jose.  (Which raises a Question: why does San Jose, with more geography and more people, have much fewer place names?)

Fortunately, we are about to be Quietly rescued by Redfin, who helpfully has their very own Quirky neighborhood names!

Update 10:16 AM: See added picture and graf toward the end. Quite Quintessential.

130418-norbert-redfin2705 NORBERT Ct
San Jose, CA 95148
$740,000

4 Beds
2 Baths
1,713 Sq. Ft.
$432 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1978
Lot Size: 7,980 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 3 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
View: Mountains, Neighborhood, Valley, City Lights
County: Santa Clara
Stories: 1
Community: Evergreen
MLS#: 81312097

AMAZING EVERGREEN HOME–ONE HOUSE AWAY FROM GROESBECK HILL PARK! BRIGHT VAULTED ENTRY, GOURMET KITCHEN WITH STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES, GRANTITE COUNTERTOP, SEPERATE DINING RM W/ GRANITE WET BAR, TILE IN KITCHEN AND HARDWOOD FLOOR IN HALLWAY, BAY WINDOW IN LIVING RM, CEILING FANS IN MOST ROOMS, FLAGSTONE PATIO WITH SPORTS COURT, FRUIT TREES, CUSTOM-BUILT VIEWING DECK IN BACKYARD! RENTS $3,100/MO

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, Apr 20: 2:00-4:00 pm

130418-norbert-wtf.jpgNow while this home isn’t the sine Qua non of Questionable real estate, it has certain Qualifications for the front page. Head off to the comments with your Questions and Quell any doubts that we would come up with some Quip.  Or Quirk.

Update 10:16 AM: Or in the case of this Quality structure on the left, we’re wondering how it will fare during the next Quake.

130418130418-norbert-stairway

We could share even more pictures. Or we could always Quit.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

February 17, 2013

How do you tell the difference between the RBA and Not the RBA?

Answer: The RBA is being bought up by foreigners with suitcases full of cash going to individual sellers.  Not the Real Bay Area is being bought up by investors with envelopes full of cashiers checks going to banks.

Report: Investors buy nearly half of Oakland’s foreclosed homes

Real estate firms turning properties into rentals, becoming "massive landlords" in some neighborhoods, critics say

130216-investors-suitcaseby Aaron Glantz, Bay Citizen — June 28, 2012, 11:01 a.m.

The rental listing advertises a “gorgeous remodeled craftsman-style house” with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a converted basement, a large deck and a backyard for $2,595 a month.

Eight months ago, this West Oakland home was owned and occupied by Theodros Shawl, a local chiropractor. Shawl bought the house in 2004, his first since emigrating from Ethiopia in 1990. Over the years, Shawl said, he rebuilt the home’s foundation and replaced its aging plumbing and electrical systems.

“I liked the fact that it was an older home, that I could repair and paint and fix there on the weekends. I was always at Home Depot,” said Shawl, 40. “I was living the American Dream.”

Last October, after being sidelined with a wrist injury, Shawl lost his home to foreclosure; in May, Bank of America sold it to a real estate investment firm, REO Homes 2 LLC, a company founded in 2010 by Bay Area businessman Neill Sullivan.

130216-investors-cashiersLest you think this is a trend only in the depressed parts of the Bay Area, we assure you that it isn’t.  Real Estate Investment Trusts are back, mostly because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of places to get reasonable returns these days.  A recent article in The New Republic covers the growing national trend of paying cash for foreclosures and turning them into rentals.  Needless to say, actual would-be buyers are finding themselves aced out of the bottom-feeding.

Your New Landlord Works on Wall Street

130216-investors-hedgeHedge funds are snatching up rental homes at an alarming rate

BY DAVID DAYEN, The New Republic, February 16, 2013

Housing analysts have been giddy for the past year about the comeback of their industry, whose collapse led to the Great Recession. Sure, 2012 was actually the third-worst year for housing ever—but it still beat 2010 and 2011. New and existing home sales, housing starts, and prices jumped in 2012, and experts expect an even stronger recovery for 2013.

It’s clear why people are so excited: Housing typically leads economic recoveries. As more people build equity in their homes, they feel more free to spend disposable income and increase economic activity, a phenomenon known as the “wealth effect.”  So a bullish outlook for housing would seemingly augur a long-awaited recovery to Main Street. But the more you look into it, the clearer it becomes that it’s not being driven by the typical American families who lost their homes in the economic crash. In fact, it’s being fueled by the banks and hedge funds whose speculation caused that crash in the first place.

If you’ve signed a lease in the past year, there’s a good chance your landlord wears a tailored suit and works on Wall Street. One of the hottest trends in the financial sector is known as “REO-to-rental.” Over the past couple years, hedge funds, private equity firms and the biggest banks have raised massive amounts of capital to buy distressed or foreclosed single-family homes, often in bulk, at bargain prices. Their strategy is to convert them to rental units for a while before reselling them when prices appreciate. The Wall Street firms are scooping up properties in the hardest-hit areas, promising high returns for the rental revenue streams—up to 10 percent annually —and starting bidding wars that have driven up some prices well above national averages. It’s the next Wall Street gold rush, with all the warning signs of a renewed speculative bubble.

Enjoy the Open Houses you’ll be making offers on but not buying because some sovereign wealth fund is outbidding you.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:18 am